Climate & Energy

Kansas Republicans against global warming

A prominent Republican Kansas legislator comes out in support of Sebelius and against his ideological brethren on the subject of Kansas coal plants: When every Academy of Science in every developed, industrialized nation agrees, and when the overwhelming number of scientists throughout the world state man-made global warming is a reality, then I would ask this: Can we afford to gamble that all of them are wrong? You may be a skeptic. I am a true believer. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is the first government agency in the United States to cite carbon dioxide emissions as the …

Green fantasy tech one step closer to reality

Lockheed Martin signs exclusive contract with Eestor for energy storage units

Oh! I forgot to pass on some interesting news that came my way recently. Defense mega-contractor Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with mysterious ultracapacitor company Eestor to use its energy storage devices in "military and homeland security applications." This seem huge. The buzz around Eestor — more here — has been intense, and the claims it makes on behalf of its ultracapacitors are astonishing. If they pan out, it could revolutionize the auto industry, and that’s no exaggeration. The problem has been figuring out how much of it is hype. Though the company’s backed by a some respected VC …

Hawaii climate conference ends, scant progress made

The U.S.-led climate talks in Honolulu, Hawaii, ended yesterday without much fanfare and without much progress achieved. By most accounts, it was a closed-door, bureaucratic nothing-fest wherein delegates from the 17 biggest-polluting countries spoke about the need to act, but no one actually did. The United States finally agreed to take part in forming climate-change plans with the rest of the world by 2009, but that concession came only after the intransigent host country’s repeated objections, eventually eliciting loud boos from many of the delegates. Also, if past experience is any indicator, U.S. participation rarely translates into anything but interference …

Undriving Miss Daisy

Focus the Nation events aim for interactivity, accountability

This week, college campuses across the country held events for Focus the Nation, a major education and action campaign around climate change. To see what it was all about, I headed to Seattle’s University of Washington campus to find out if the students behind Focus the Nation could teach me a thing or two. The event was originally billed as a teach-in, and I imagined students walking out of class protest-style or professors stopping their lectures mid-algorithm to step on a global-warming soapbox. But when I arrived on campus, I found quite a different scene. Very little scene, initially. Outside …

Carbon-loaded question

Obama parries ABEC

Obama gets buttonholed by a planted ABEC coal shill: Nothing he says here is particularly objectionable. The priority on reducing CO2 emissions is welcome. It is true that if we can figure out a way to cost-effectively sequester coal emissions, it will bring some benefit. More important, though, is what’s not said. He says we can’t emit more CO2, but he stops short of calling for a moratorium on dirty coal plants with no sequestration. (He says he won’t “license or encourage” them. Hm …) And he tip-toes around the central question about clean-coal: at what price? How many subsidies …

Tonight’s climate-less Democratic debate: Brought to you on behalf of ABEC

I looked through the transcript, and as far as I can tell there wasn’t a single question about climate change in tonight’s Democratic debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. This is the fourth CNN debate sponsored by coal front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). Not one of the four has contained a question on climate.

Flipflopping on FutureGen

Bush drops mismanaged ‘NeverGen’ clean coal project

For those remaining seven or eight three or four people who still buy the Bush rhetoric that he cares about global warming and is committed to addressing the problem with new technology, Exhibit 435C for the prosecution is the just-canceled "clean coal" project called FutureGen. [Amusing anecdote for FHA (Future Historians of America): I once had a boss at the U.S. Department of Energy who practiced repeating "clean coal" in front of a mirror so as not to break out smiling when uttering that oxymoron.] Yes, I know Bush said as recently as Monday (in the most vetted of all presidential speeches), "Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions." But he wasn't lying or flip-flopping or anything. He didn't say, "We are funding new technologies ..." or "Anyone who actually meant what they said would keep funding new technologies ..." Give the guy a break. He said, "Let us fund new technologies ..." He was imploring Congress for help in a "Let my people go" vein. Yes, two months ago, "administration officials were calling it a 'centerpiece' of their strategy for clean coal technologies," but centerpieces are largely decorative, no? This is sort of a setback for those who believe coal gasification combined with carbon capture and storage could be a major global warming solution. I say "sort of" for two reasons. First, the program was being horribly mismanaged: "The idea of FutureGen makes complete sense," Dr. Moniz [undersecretary of energy during the Clinton administration] said. However, a study he helped direct concluded earlier this year that the FutureGen project was badly structured, with confusion about whether it was a research project or a demonstration. Among its problems, he said in a telephone interview on Friday, was that it has "a cast of thousands" ...

Warming oceans lead to more frequent hurricanes, says study

A new study published in Nature weighs in on the effect-of-climate-change-on-hurricanes debate, postulating that a warming north Atlantic has made hurricanes stronger and more frequent.

Global warring redux

New report compares military and climate spending

The Institute for Policy Studies has a new Foreign Policy in Focus report out: "The Budget Compared: Military vs. Climate Security." As you’d expect from the name, it’s a close look at how federal dollars are allocated for military vs. climate protection, and as you’d expect from, you know, being awake, there’s an enormous disparity. It’s pretty astonishing nonetheless. Here are the reports major findings: • FINDING: For every dollar allocated for stabilizing the climate, the government will spend $88 on achieving security by military force. • FINDING: The government is allocating 99% of combined federal spending on military and …